Setting the Scene for Success: All Stars Project’s Transformative Vision

For many teenagers, the lure of the stage feeds dreams of stardom and fortune. All Stars Project channels this desire to perform into a powerful personal development tool for young people across the U.S.

Published May 9, 2023 | 3 min read

The mission

For many teenagers, the lure of the stage feeds dreams of stardom and fortune. All Stars Project channels this desire to perform into a powerful personal development tool for young people across the U.S.

Every year, All Stars’ free programs reach more than 20,000 young people and their families in cities across the U.S. From neighborhood hip-hop talent shows to theatre training courses, to workforce development programs, participants are introduced to absorbing new worlds while learning about themselves and others.

“The young people we work with lead lives that can often change quickly and unpredictably, especially for the worse,” explains Shadae McDaniel, Vice President / Director of Strategic Initiatives / Director, ASP of New Jersey. “They might face a myriad of obstacles just to get to school each day – family responsibilities, violence, and financial struggles, all amidst schools and communities trying to navigate life post-pandemic.

“Learning improvisation skills allows them to build with whatever life throws at them, navigate volatility, and give them the tools to create with chaos.”

The nonprofit also brings young people together with caring adults – people whose paths they wouldn’t normally cross. As they learn from business and cultural leaders, academics, police officers, and others, the adults benefit too: as All Stars puts it, “everyone grows”.

Through afterschool development and community organizing, the nonprofit sets out to bridge racial, social, and economic divisions, and to transform young lives. That makes it a perfect match for the goals of the RBC Foundation USA, whose strategy is built around helping young people carve out promising futures.  

In fact, the Foundation has supported All Stars since 2015, when it awarded a grant to the organization’s Newark chapter. In 2017, RBC also played a key role in helping All Stars establish a base in Jersey City.

Being 100% privately funded, All Stars depends on such relationships. That was particularly true through the challenging period of COVID-19 and the tough economic times that have followed, says Shadae.

“RBC recognizes the value of our work, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Cutting edge university research affirms the validity and importance of incorporating eight dimensions of development to maximize the impact of programs that focus on youth, and All Stars incorporates these in their approach to development through performance” she explains.

“RBC’s support was critical to us during the pandemic, when we had to rapidly redesign many programs, and create new ones to connect with communities in new ways. They enabled us to pivot in order to ensure continuity and deliver support to those who needed it most, and they remain a steadfast partner.”

The programs

The RBC Foundation USA currently supports two All Stars programs:

Development School for Youth (DSY) is a business and leadership training program where young people learn to perform as professionals. Since its inception in 1997, 6,000 young people have graduated from the program.

RBC is one of the companies conducting workshops that lay the groundwork for internships. According to Shadae, even the experience of getting inside RBC’s Jersey City high-rise office starts to offer participants a radical new perspective.

“These young people grow up in the city, they see these tall buildings, but they refer to the people who go into them as ‘suits’ – they don’t see that life as being for them,” she says.

“You’ll be talking to the kids when we do office visits, and all of a sudden, you’ll notice that they’re so distracted by seeing their own city from new heights. Some of them are teary-eyed. It’s such a symbolic moment – you are opening up the world for these young people.”

Development Coaching, the other program supported by the Foundation, matches young people and adults from coast to coast, based on shared interests and experiences. Over 1000 students have taken part.

RBC employees have been enthusiastic coaches, according to Pat Delgado, All Stars’ Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations. “People at RBC have genuine relationships with the young people who have gone through the program. They have stayed in touch, and the kids are so moved by it,” he adds.

Supporting that kind of personal growth is more important than ever. “Since the pandemic, young people talk to me about the sense of isolation and overwhelming apathy. They are growing up in dysfunction that’s now at a whole new level,” Shadae says. “Our afterschool development programs give them a sense of hope.”

All Stars Project at a glance

Founded: 1981
Based: ASP operates in New York City; Newark and Jersey City, NJ; Chicago, Dallas; and the San Francisco Bay Area with volunteers and partnerships in over 20 states.
Cause: Personal development for inner-city young people
RBCCM partners since 2015
RBC volunteers: Includes employees who serve on the All Stars National Board of Directors and local Boards in New Jersey, New York, San Francisco and Dallas.

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